In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, all of Greece’s museums and art galleries have been forced to close their doors. A nationwide lockdown is in operation that has included restrictions to some of the country’s most famous sites, including those in the capital city of Athens. Even the globally famous Acropolis Museum, which first opened in 2009, has had to stay closed during this period. However, the museum has spent this time digitising its collection to make it accessible to the public remotely.
With well over 4,000 ancient objects in its collection, the Acropolis Museum is known as a centre of academic research as well as public education. It announced in late 2020 that it would make as many of its research programmes and artefacts as possible available online. Since then, a comprehensive programme of digitisation has been undertaken which means that some 2,156 objects are now available to view digitally. As of January 2021, anyone can explore some of the most remarkable archaeological finds from ancient Athens in a stunning level of detail so long as they have access to an internet connection.
The Acropolis Museum’s management team said that the institution had entered into the world of digital technology so that it could open, “new channels of communication with the public.” The Digital Museum, as the online version of the institution is billed includes several applications, ranging from cultural and educational content to things that are aimed at some of its tourist visitors. The digitised museum platform showcases many aspects of the Acropolis Museum’s exhibits and, in some cases, provides unique experiences that are not possible with in-person visits to its galleries.
A Global Audience of Every Age
“[This allows for]… a new, exciting world for kids and grown-ups alike,” the museum said when the digital version of its collection first launched. It went on to add that the new website is able to capture the way the institution functions in a thoroughly contemporary manner. “It offers activities, provides multi-dimensional orientation and entertainment,” the museum said. In particular, the Acropolis Museum’s digital version has been designed to make its collection open and accessible to international visitors, for example by offering content in multiple languages.
Furthermore, some of the digital museum has been designed with the specific needs of children in mind, too. The so-called Acropolis Museum Kids area of the website is aimed at children aged between six and twelve years of age, regardless of where they might live in the world. It invites them to get to know what the museum has to offer while having some fun. Acropolis Museum Kids includes educational games, entertaining videos and a series of activities prompt children can do that promotes discovery through play and experimentation.
Many of the museum’s artefacts have been scanned in high definition so that they can be viewed closely in all their glory. There is also an extensive array of multimedia options that include audio-visual content and three-dimensional images. This means that the Acropolis Museum is now leading the way in the country. Not only is it the first museum in Greece to adopt a fully digital strategy but it has done so in a way that suggests novel and hi-tech ways for museums outside of the country to present their collections to a virtual audience.
The project for digitising the collection at the museum is said to have cost €1.3 million. This required extensive funding, of course, which was delivered via the EU’s Regional Operation Programme known as Attica 2014–2020. Part of this funding programme meant that the digitised content was able to be made available in several European languages, not just Greek and English. It also allowed the museum to provide content that would be easy to view for both colour-blind visitors as well as those with visual impairments. It is hoped that in a post-pandemic world, the digital museum will have sparked people’s imaginations and that, in turn, this will help to drive up in-person visitor numbers.
About the author – Manuel Charr
Manuel Charr is a journalist working in the arts and cultural sectors. With a background in marketing, Manuel is drawn to arts organizations which are prepared to try inventive ways to reach new audiences.